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Bishops back Succession Bill

22 February 2013

by a staff reporter


Heir time: Prince Charles chats to students, on a visit to St Stephen's House, Oxford, earlier this month

Heir time: Prince Charles chats to students, on a visit to St Stephen's House, Oxford, earlier this month

BISHOPS in the House of Lords have "fully" supported changes to succession laws to remove male primogeniture and allow members of the royal family to marry Roman Catholics ( News, 25 January).

During a debate on the second reading of the Bill, the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, said that there had been a "sea change" in relations between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches in recent years; so a law preventing an heir to the throne from marrying a Roman Catholic was "somewhat out of time. . . Our position would be that it is very important that the monarch, as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, should be a member of it.

"Woven into the fabric of this country, the Church has helped to build a better society - more and more in active co-operation for the common good with those of other faiths."

But Lord Luce, a former Lord Chamberlain, asked for greater assurances from the RC Church that any heir to the throne would be raised as an Anglican. He urged ministers to hold more talks with the RC Church, to ensure that there was no risk of any "misunderstanding".

"For children to retain their place in the line of succession, they must be brought up within the Anglican faith," he told peers.

He questioned whether there was "sufficient assurance" that heirs to the throne would be brought up as members of the Church of England. "I ask Her Majesty's Government whether they would consider exploring with the Roman Catholic Church - but perhaps particularly with the Archbishop of Westminster - whether it will clarify further its attitude," he said.

Lord Luce suggested that the RC Church should make a clear statement that it accepted "the importance of the role" of the Church of England, and that royal children of an interfaith marriage "would be likely to be brought up in the Anglican faith".

The Bill passed its Second Reading in the Lords, and will now move on to committee stage for further scrutiny.


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